I got this article from Monkey School’s Blog; however as I would like to keep it for my own reference, I’m going to copy it here.
I did do a search and indeed can’t find the author; however, there are some versions where it is a chef father rather than a wise mother. (er, not implying the chef isn’t wise, just needed a good descriptive word for mother.)
I’m kind of partial to the wise mother version. . . .
Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?
By: Author Unknown
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life, and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it, and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first pot, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. She then asked her to take the egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to smell and sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she smelled and tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity- boiling water-but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a passive heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside, am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or, am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you become better and change the situation around you.
How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
Oh, and if you are like me and prone to over-analyze things, DON’T! It’ll totally ruin the whole thing for you.
You’ll be sitting there thinking “apples to oranges” (as the daughter noted differences in the carrots / eggs. . .but not the coffee bean).
Worse, if you get to that point, you’ll then be thinking to yourself, “If I left carrots in boiling water for 20 minutes, the water would have turned orange and had a flavor. . . “
Truly! Just read the story.
And, ummm, I apologize if I just ruined the whole thing for you!